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  • Writer's pictureChristian Service Center

May 31 News Conference: Surviving Summer Heat for the Unsheltered

Contact: Carla Cox, Director of Operations

Tel./Cell: 407-454-2834

When: Friday, May 31, 11:30 a.m.

Where: Christian Service Center, 808 W. Central Blvd., Orlando, FL 32805

What: Nonprofit and community leaders raising awareness of the elevated risks of heat-related illness and death for people experiencing homelessness this summer.

ORLANDO, FL, May 29, 2024 – The Christian Service Center will host its open house Anniversary Cookout on Friday, May 31, 2024, at its campus in Parramore, beginning with a news conference at 11:30 a.m. to highlight the dangers of extreme heat for those who are living on the street and ways the organization will offer relief this summer as a cooling center. Speaking at the podium will be Health Care Center for the Homeless’ Lead Clinician Dr. Pia Valvassori, State Representative Anna V. Eskamani of 42nd District, Christian Service Center Programs Committee Member and Parramore resident Shaniqua Rose, Christian Service Center Executive Director Eric Gray and Director of Operations Carla Cox.

The Christian Service Center Anniversary Cookout is an annual celebration of the nonprofit organization’s founding on June 1, 1971. The cookout begins at 12:00 p.m. and is free to the public.


The extremely hot and dry Memorial Day weekend felt like the official kick-off for the Orlando area’s long season of heat and humidity. With above-average temperatures expected this summer, those without effective hydration or cooling risk heat exhaustion or potentially deadly heat stroke — symptoms of which include dizziness, confusion, and unconsciousness and requires immediate medical attention.


Following a plan implemented in 2023, the Christian Service Center intends to once again open indoor, air-conditioned spaces for guests to cool down and get hydrated when the heat index in Orlando reaches 105 degrees Fahrenheit. The National Weather Service HeatRisk is an experimental index that takes into consideration how unusual the heat is for the time of the year; duration of heat including both daytime and nighttime temperatures; and if those temperatures pose an elevated risk of heat-related impacts.


The rising heat is particularly concerning locally, where rents have been rising drastically in the last several years. Central Florida has had a 75% increase in unsheltered people experiencing homelessness since 2019 due to increased rents, lack of affordable housing and stagnant wages. Heat intensity is greater in urban areas, and people experiencing homelessness outside are not able to cool their body temperature overnight.


The Anniversary Cookout is a longstanding event for the Christian Service Center, a 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to reducing homelessness and poverty in Central Florida since 1971. “It’s a day our unsheltered guests have come to look forward to,” according to Executive Director Eric Gray. “Instead of just our usual day services and lunch meal, we grill burgers and dogs, there’s cotton candy, popcorn, fun activities and more. It’s a celebration of where we started and where we’re going, and a chance for our guests to maybe forget about the harsh realities of being on the streets for a couple hours, cool off and feel respected.”


To learn more about the Christian Service Center and its ongoing mission to eliminate homelessness and poverty, visit or check its Facebook page for the latest news and events.

The Christian Service Center for Central Florida is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit whose mission is to prevent homelessness, combat poverty, cultivate self-sufficiency, restore hope and glorify God through the faithful provision of services that directly address physical, emotional and spiritual needs for families and individuals who are struggling in Central Florida regardless of race, religion, orientation, age or gender. Federal Tax ID 59-1353031.



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